Vendors still feeling pain of taxi war

A trader in Site C cries about the lack of business during the taxi violence.

Despite the truce reached between the province’s biggest taxi associations, informal traders and street vendors are still feeling the impact of the taxi violence on their business.

For weeks, the Cape Amalgamated Taxi Association (CATA) and the Congress of Democratic Taxi Association (CODETA) had been at war over routes between Bellville and Paarl. This week, however, they reached an agreement that should ensure an end to the violence – and taxis returning to operation.

Vendors who spoke to Vukani before the peace deal had been brokered, said they had been unable to trade for nearly three weeks as members of the two associations clashed.

Nonzukiso Mbembe who is based at the Khayelitsha Mall, said: “We are losing busines. Some of us might not be able to run business again.”

Another vendor Simphiwe Mpinga added: “It seems that Our lives are in the hands of the taxi owners and drivers. Codeta and Cata will rule the province if the government does not force them to sign a peace treaty. Now we are forced to sit with our stock with no one buying it. We are losing a lot of money.”

Sindiwe Ntloko, a vendor at Site C rank said the violence had had a negative impact on the economy – in addition to endangering people’s lives. “I am scared this has cost people’s lives and they are still in danger. We are losing business. People are losing jobs.”

United Khayelitsha Informal Traders (Ukita) chairman Thozama Gwente, said the violence had affected most vendors badly, some of whom had closed up shop.

“If there are no taxis, some can’t survive. Those who run restaurants near taxi ranks have suffered. It was like unpaid leave. Although the government has promised that we can apply for the relief fund, the reality is informal traders cannot have all the requirements they want.

“A simple example is that an informal trader won’t have a business plan. Some bank (accounts) cannot stay active for six months, especially during Covid-19. It is tough for us. The little money one has, goes to the grocery. The requirements are too much,” she said.

However, now that the taxis are operating again, Ms Gwente said some vendors would hopefully be able to save their businesses.